December 2012 Newsletter

There was nothing interesting on TV so we watched the 1968 movie “Bullitt” which we recorded. We know there is a yellow 356C in the closing frames but there are other observations we made that maybe of interest.
· Drivers using hand signals to turn (not during chase scenes).
· Men wearing fedoras and nurses wearing caps.
· Eating TV dinners
· Putting cream on cereal
· Using pay phones
· Only lap belts (being used?)
· Smoking pipe in hospital (but no cigarette smoking in the film)
There is great music, lots of jazz riffs. You should watch “Bullit” again.

356 Market
We’ve commented before but will have to admit we can’t understand the 356 market. Recently a customer’s Speedster that we help restore sold for $215,0000. We have restored seven Speedsters and they are the easiest 356 to restore. Doors without windows, a loose fitting top, no radio and few options. We have folks standing in line for the Shop ‘58 Cabriolet which should sell in the 90’s. In the last few years six of the 356’s we’ve restored have sold for a total of close to one million dollars.

What we will do is concentrate on finishing our Shop 356s and cut back on customer work or increase our shop rate. We don’t know how long this 356 market will last but think now is the time to sell, not to buy; or just enjoy your 356.

So what did we do? We bought another 356. A 1961 Coupe with good mechanicals but bad rust damage and previous repairs. So this makes eleven 356’s we own. We will have to thin out the herd.

The Latest Additions
The ‘61 we bought had a story. BJ took the call. The owner said his mechanic said the 356 was too rusty to drive and he wanted to sell it. So we gave him directions to the shop and he drove the 356 here. He explained he had the 356 for forty eight years and only recently stopped driving during the winter. Our evaluation showed significant rust damage which had been covered with flat sheet metal and sheet metal screws.

The engine was an unnumbered 912 but had been well maintained. The owner complained about loose steering and we could see a lot of slop in the steering wheel. We removed the inspection plate and saw the steering coupler was almost gone. We explained that this was probably the problem but it was also evident the steering box had not been serviced.

So he didn’t have to sell the 356 if the steering coupler was replaced. We told him he could drive it home but not to make any sudden steering corrections. We also told him what we thought of his mechanic.

Later we got a call from the owners son-in-law and got the impression the family thought the 76 year old driver should sell the 356. We told the son-in-law we had an offer in mind but hadn’t told the owner as the 356 could be repaired and driven.

The son-in-law said they would think about our offer and get back to us after the weekend. They advertised the 356 for sale over the weekend and had some lookers but no offers and then decided to sell the 356 to us. They drove it out and we closed the deal. So the ‘61 Coupe awaits disassembly.

Bill completed the check out of the engine for the Shop ‘58 Cabriolet and we installed it but have not yet completed the final checks. We retrieved Barb’s Twin Grille Roadster from the upholstery shop and the new top makes a great difference. We are thinking about an another restoration of this car to a higher level as the last customer’s Twin Grille Roadster we restored was on the market for $190k (Porsche produced 4145 Speedsters and 249 Twin Grille Roadsters– again why the price disparity).

BJ has finished the body work on the Mulligan’s ‘59 Sunroof Coupe and will do the underneath clean, paint, caulk and undercoat. Then it will be a dry fit and off to paint. We picked up the Shop’63 Coupe at Blast Tech and it was rough as expected. It will need a bottom everything and there are dents in the body. The left front nose area has been clipped with over lapping welds, the right front fender and nose have previous repairs and the rear seats were rusted away. Nothing we haven’t seen before. In the past five years we have not seen a 356 project in good condition at a reasonable price. We like to think that our 356 restoration book caused this situation. We have received many calls and E-mails from do-it-yourselfers.

Jim’s project continues at a slow pace. Just when we think we are close to finishing a panel replacement we find a problem. We thought we were done with the front end but then did some measurements and were off almost an inch. The problem was when we leaned into the front compartment our weight caused panels to misalign. Since we had installed the headlight buckets we were able to run pieces of conduit through the hole in the bottom to the floor. We adjusted to the right height and clamped in place. We removed some tack welds, readjusted panels and should wrap up the front end shortly.

Grandpa News
We had to mention to Alex that Santa needs his list a couple of weeks before Christmas so the Elves can make and wrap the gifts. Changes and additions, and there were many additions, were difficult to do for Santa. Alex has a fun Christmas break planned, her cousins and Grandma from Minnesota will be coming out to Colorado and they are thinking about going up to the mountains and learning how to ski.

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